My hearing loss was sudden and frightening and occurred in middle age. Prior to that time I had perfect hearing and perfect pitch (for those who might not know, perfect pitch means that I knew the pitch of a note and never failed to get it right. For example, I would hum G, go to the piano and hit G and I was always 'right on.') Now music is no longer pleasurable. It's getting better, however.
Meniere's disease in both ears appeared suddenly with almost total deafness. Through the following months some of my hearing returned, but it was never as good as before. I was able to function for many years without any help other than a supportive family that told me what was said when I had that 'deer in the headlights' look on my face. In time I got a hearing aid and was thrilled to be able to hear the refrigerator run. The next help was a Princess phone with an amplified hand set. That was followed in a few years by a desk phone with stronger amplification in the hand set. A few years later I resorted to a speaker phone as my hearing further deteriorated. Now I have a closed captioning phone and get captions when I am called as well as when I call out. If you telephone me, I might be slow to answer because I need to read the captions. If anyone needs information about this wonderful phone. go to: www.CapTel.com
My Phone.By the time I was in my 50's I was having a lot of trouble understanding people and I began retreating from going places where I would be embarrassed. No more parties or meetings for me. I didn't deal with the situation forcefully enough and would ask people to repeat; and when I still couldn't understand I would ask for a third repeat. Of course, if I didn't understand the first time, I wasn't going to be able to do so the third time if they said the same thing the same way. By that time, this became embarrassing for both of us and I would wanly smile and pretend I heard.
I struggled through life this way and stayed close to someone who would make sure I understood what was being said correctly. My husband became my second pair of ears during all those years. After he died I had to get 2 digital hearing aids to continue to function in a hearing world. My hearing loss was becoming severe. Eventually, it became profound and that was when I got a cochlear implant.
And now for the funny thing that happened to me on the way to DEAFNESS. I made many mistakes that caused me great distress during those years, but some of them were just plain funny.
I was working as a secretary for a Real Estate company and, as such, I had to call the ads in to the newspaper representative. The newspaper gave a party for the newsmen and their counterparts in the corporate world. I had to represent the agency at this party. It was a cocktail party with hor's doeuvres being served at round tables that seated 8 people. The conversation that flowed between the people at my table was just noise to me. It was impossible for me to understand a thing that was being said. Nearing tears, I retreated to the only place I could have privacy; the loo. There was no one in there and, as I walked in, my frustration led to me talk out loud. To my dead husband I said, "Oh Honey, it's no good without you." Then I noticed a pair of feet under one of the stalls. With a very red face I quickly retreated to the other stall and stayed there until I heard her leave. I do hope she didn't notice my tell-tale shoes later.
My son and daughter were visiting me after their father's death. I had a breakfast bar on one side of my kitchen counter and the kids were seated waiting for me to serve them. I made BLT's and handed one to my son. I turned my back to get my daughter's and heard my son whisper to his sister., "Is this all the bacon we get?" I whirled around and asked, "Oh, you want more?" He was so startled that I will never forget the look on his face. Incredulous, comes to mind.
Hearing loss can sometimes do funny things.
My worst faux paux occurred when I was an officer in the Women's group at the church I used to belong to. Once a year we had Women's Day and, as VP, it was my duty to do the part of the service that the minister usually did (sans Sermon, of course). We had two services at that time; a nine o'clock and an 11 o'clock. I had to take the early service. I went into the office prior to going into the sanctuary to get the announcements that I had to give. While I was there the President came in and was teasing me about taking the later service as well since I would be experienced by then. We were in the back of the room and as we talked the office filled up with lots of people. I left and as I went out the front door the president yelled something at me. I assumed (always a big mistake) that she was teasing me again. I threw up my hands and said, "Oh no" and promptly left. The next day the president came to see me and asked me if I heard what she had said. I confessed that I hadn't, but thought she was teasing me again. She informed me that what she had actually said was, "Will you take Rusty (her small son) home with you after you are through?" She told me that everyone turned to her and asked her what was the matter with Rusty? Oh No!!!!
Finally, there was the terrible time that should certainly have taught me to never pretend to hear when I did not. You may have read my previous post for a birthday wish for my granddaughter, Rachel. She was about 3 years old and I was talking to her on the phone. She was telling me a long story, of which I understood nothing. I kept saying, "That's nice Honey. Oh I am so happy, Honey. Wow,that's great Honey." When my daughter took the phone back she asked me if I knew what Rachel was telling me. I told her I didn't have a clue. Rachel had been telling me she had been sick. Well, as you can tell, assume-ing made and ass our of you and and ass out of me again.
I'm sure there have been many times that my misunderstandings have been funny or disastrous, but my friends and family have been too kind to tell me. I doubt that it will stop, because I still have trouble hearing in a noisy place, but I do fairly well when it's quiet and, believe me, that's an improvement. I have also stopped pretending to hear when I don't.
For those of you who may live with a hearing impaired person, or have contact with one, I will pass on some tips to help you make them hear. Do not yell; that makes it worse. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Face them so the sound of your voice is directed toward them. And, most important, if they did not understand what you said, please try to phrase it in a different way. Change a few words in your sentence, if possible. 'Store' might become a 'market'. You get the idea.
And have patience with the hearing impaired and make sure they hear you. They really do want to.